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1. Principles and practices

This week I worked on defining my final project idea and started getting used to the documentation process.

I’d like to work on a project useful for AgriLab. I’ve identified 3 fields related to agriculture : IOT remote sensors , robots that can be used as tractors , drones that can identify problems in the crops.

But those are big projects and use a lot of integrated modules or pieces already built. As I’ve understood, for the FabAcademy, you need to create and build most of the parts.

I decided to focus on a smaller project involving most of the subjects and week assignments.

Sprouted seeds

Seed sprouted have many qualities for nutrition, a lot of vitamins and some seed like the Alflafla are nutritious. The seed sprouting is an ancestral food in many cultures.

Seed sprouter

Basically, you just need water and sun. And you want to avoid moisture.

With the manual sprouter, you pour water twice a day and flip the seed. The enclosure let the water flow to avoid stagnant water. Some systems have several levels to have different sort of seeds or seeds at different growing stades (2 days old).

An automatic sprouter

Automatic sprouter exists, I’ve found 2 families of them.

One run water with a pump in a close circuit (the same water is used and reused). It’s problematic because the quality of the water geets poorer each time.

One use some kind of fogger system. It cost about 250$ . It’s a big device that has 5 trays. The 5 trays are in the same enclosure. So you have to control many things if you want to grow differents sort of seeds.

My system

I’d like to build a compact system for one person. I’ll integrate humidity, temperature and luminosity sensors. I’d like to have a way to select the kind of seed and that it’ll select the specific program for that seed family.

I’ve found a small and compact system that makes a small amount of mist. They are based on a piezzo electric element exited by electricity at 1.7MHz.

They are cheap, mostly sold for decoration for fountains or for effects during Halloween.

I’ll build an enclosure to keep the mist and the warm generated by the seed. It has to be translucent, the seed needs a small amount of light. I’ll have a system to add the water for at least 3 days and a way to get the water back.

The humidity sensor will confirm that there is mist when the fogger is in action (in case the system run out of water). Then monitor the decrease of humidity to feed back more fog following the growing cylce of the seeds. The light sensor will monitor the ambient light, normally daylight, it’s one of the few clock in nature. I’m also curious about the influence of artificial indoor light. Temperature is one of the parameter. Some seeds need a certain temperature, if it’s hotter, the growing time is faster. If it’s too hot the seed will die. If it’s too cold the seed is in dormancy.

Common problems in Agriculture are : dust, moisture, mud, rain, wind and sun.

What I’d like to explore with this project : different ways to build things that can resist to moisture. I think I’ll create a mold for the enclosure then vacuum form the enclosure (it has to be water resistant and compatible for food). But maybe I’ll discover other ways to waterproof 3d printing. For the electronics, I’ll have to find some way like epoxy.

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